EU travel restrictions: what American travelers should know

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On Monday, the European Union removed the United States from its “safe list” of countries whose residents can travel to its 27 member states without requirements such as quarantine and testing. This has generated confusion with some people writing on social media that Americans have been banned from visiting Europe. That’s not really what the recommendation means.

Americans have not been explicitly banned from going anywhere in Europe. But on Tuesday, at least one country had imposed new restrictions on travelers based on their vaccination status: Italy said it would require unvaccinated travelers to quarantine themselves for five days; vaccinated travelers must pass a coronavirus test before entering. Here’s a look at what the new developments mean for vaccinated and unvaccinated people:

Since June, the United States has been on the European Union’s safe travelers list, which has allowed American travelers to visit many EU member countries without quarantine. In addition to removing the United States from the safe persons list on Monday, the European Council, the governing body of the European Union, issued a recommendation urging member countries to impose travel restrictions on visitors from the United States. not vaccinated against the coronavirus. The European Union is urging authorities across Europe to reinstate the kind of mandatory quarantine and testing requirements that seemed set to disappear, but mainly for unvaccinated travelers.

Ultimately, however, it is up to a particular country to decide whether it wishes to issue new requirements.

The first notable changes were announced Tuesday, by Italy. Even though visitors are vaccinated, they must now get a negative coronavirus test 72 hours before arrival. Previously, some airlines, such as Delta Air Lines, required it, but the Italian government did not.

In general, however, if you are fully vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine, which includes those manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, the requirements you face to enter a country are unlikely. of the EU change significantly. Many member states have already urged travelers to provide proof of vaccination and waive quarantine requirements for those who can show proof of vaccination.

Countries beyond Italy might decide to add new restrictions, but it’s unclear how many will. Still, it would be wise to have your Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine registration card handy, no matter where you are heading.

Under the policy recently announced by Italy, unvaccinated American travelers will now have to “self-isolate” for five days upon arrival in the country, according to the Italian National Tourism Board.

Previously, unvaccinated visitors from the United States had to take a coronavirus test 48 hours before landing in Italy, but they did not have to self-quarantine.

As of Tuesday afternoon, it was not yet clear how the new recommendation would affect travel beyond Italy.

Tom Milanovic, marketing manager for Spain’s Tourism Authority, said many worried people called him on Monday, wondering if they should cancel upcoming trips. But so far, the European Union’s recommendation has not changed Spain’s requirements, even for unvaccinated travelers, he said.

“Every American citizen, regardless of their status, is always ready to go,” he said, adding that the country is issuing new guidelines every week. Current guidelines, valid until September 5, continue to classify the United States as “low risk,” meaning Americans do not have to take a negative antigen test before flying. for Spain.

Tourism authorities in several other countries have said they are not free to discuss the new requirements, but to their knowledge, the European Union’s recommendation has not changed anything immediately.

No, but it underscores how quickly the rules and regulations continue to change. Unvaccinated travelers should be prepared to update entry requirements for the chosen location until the moment they arrive at the airport. It should also be remembered that long before this recommendation, some countries already required the quarantine of unvaccinated travelers.

If children are too young to be vaccinated, the new recommendation does not apply to them, a European Union official said.

The new recommendation makes an exception for essential travel.

No, that doesn’t change anything at the moment. There is no guarantee that the person sitting next to you on your flight has been vaccinated.

You can definitely try.

Kate Kilcoyne, travel advisor for All-Travel, a Los Angeles-based travel agency, said it was too early to know how airlines and cruise lines would react to this new development, but her clients generally have more success in receiving credits than money. refunds when their travel plans are canceled.

Tammy O’Hara, travel agent for Million Miles Travel Agency, a New York-based boutique, echoed this point. Most hotels, she found, are more willing than airlines to offer full refunds, she added.

Standard travel insurance may not be very useful, said Svetlana Stein, president of L&B Travel, LLC, an agency in Los Angeles.

“Covid-19 is now considered a predictable situation and is often not accepted as a covered ground for cancellation,” she said. Ms Stein urged travelers to purchase insurance that offers a “cancel for any reason” feature for this reason.


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